I can’t say I disliked Holidays. It was a fun watch with gems hidden in a few of the shorts. There were some disappointments here and there but by the end, I had a distinct take-away that left me uncomfortable.
The filmmaking was good, the dialogue was good. The acting is good. The title sequences were fun and I liked having the ‘reveal’ of the makers names at the end of each. If you’d like a blow by blow account of each segment that I basically agree with, listen to the recent BindTortureKast episode. The one point that I maybe got even more exacerbated with was the overall message I felt I’d been fed once I sat back to watch the credits roll.
The films were actually telling me awful things. Not fun horror film style awful things either. Social and political style awful things. It said to me that women are all basically fucking crazy. Lone women are utterly helpless or prone to bad decisions and are also crazy. Women are better able to think and cope in groups and may be less helpless but are way fucking crazier. Men are largely absent or abusive and don’t seem to notice all the crazy women until they get killed by one. Honestly, at this rate, I’d rather the much maligned airhead cum dumpster style women seen too often in horror because with them, the audience doesn’t run the risk of being tricked into thinking that she’s anything like most women or that she represents any kind of feminist or egalitarian statement whatsoever.
The only reason I give this stuff much thought is due to the surge in projects like Women in Horror Month and feminist critique of horror films and books, Especially ones written longer than 20 years ago, as they are exactly like shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to finding sexist content. I find that trying to forcefully inject femme-centric stories and leads into the genre has been backfiring in all kinds of really dangerous and mealymouthed ways and this film is a neat example. Now, I’m no social scientist nor any sort of academic of the topic but most of these shorts had me wondering who a lot of these were written for. I’ve been trained now — through being treated like a second-rate citizen for half of my life in a sexist world and shouted down by fundamentalist feminists for the other half since I prefer my own opinion on such matters — to look at films and ask where I fit into this as a human and a woman. It’s never my number one intention when watching a film but with this one it all just sort of gets dragged into the forefront. Kind of unfair when I thought I was going to watch a gnarly nice little horror anthology packed with writer and director names that had me very interested.
With luck, a second installment will happen and have a little more realism and originality to the characters with the same amount of creativity given to the stories which, if you dodge a few snakepits, dead ends, and the Halloween one entirely, were really quite good.
Edit* I forgot to mention the 7000 bonus points for excellent use of baby chickens. If anyone knows me, they know that’s my heartmelter right there. Combined with stigmata? Sure-fire Lydia-win material.